If you're in a band nowadays, you're smart to focus your efforts outside the city you grew up in. Ask any band that's had success and they should tell you that reaching as many people as possible is what led them to being able to live off their music.
When you look at Houston's Waterparks, it's hard not to see them as a band that will only get bigger and bigger with each release. As part of the family at Equal Vision Records and management from the Madden Brothers, the trio has been set on gaining as many fans as possible with their hook-heavy pop punk sound.
Now, with last year's Double Dare getting plenty of traction they're set to return with brand new songs from next year's Entertainment for the big room at House of Blues. The Houston Press sat down with lead singer Awsten Knight to discuss the band's past, present, and future.
Band names are often funny things that make sense when you first get your start, and less as you mature. There are countless bands that either can't tell you where their name came from, or what it actually means. I had read that the name Waterparks had something to do with puberty.
"I think for us our biggest fears were heights and water, which you can put together with a water park. Since they say you should always immerse yourself in your fears, so we did," Knight says.
Cracking through in a place like Houston has never been an easy feat for any band that's from here, although Waterparks seemed to gain traction pretty quickly. When asked if he thought they would just be another band struggling to make it out of Houston, Knight replied, "Yeah. The last two years have been bigger for us, but that's what you think on bad days. On most days, it's just the mentality of 'whatever it takes' to make it. Honestly you have no excuse not to make it nowadays if you have Wi-Fi."
Last year the band dropped the full length Double Dare and proved quickly that they were more than just another pop punk band. The album was praised by multiple critics for its inventive songwriting and use of hip hop and pop elements.
"We were definitely taking our sound further with that one," Knight said. "Pop is all I listen to, and progressive pop is how I see the music we make. If someone asks me what kind of music we make, I always say pop music. It weeds out the dumb people and it's fun to pick out the meatheads before they get too invested in us. When we started, we just had girls at our shows, and it was cool. Someone once pointed out that we had only girls as fans so we tried to even out the genders for a while, but I realized that if anyone likes us, then that's enough for me. Fuck the guys who have masculinity issues."
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The band's new album Entertainment is scheduled to drop January 26 of next year. "I definitely want to release records this quickly, or at least I hope we can always do so," Knight says. "Every other genre releases work this fast; there's new pop and new rap every three months. Look at the top 50 artists on Apple, they're hip hop acts with artists like Taylor Swift right there behind them. There's a reason they control what's happening and rank the highest of the genres."
The band has done a great deal of growing per release. With their use of electronic and hip hop elements on Double Dare, Knight notes "there's more of that this time. "Blonde" is as close to what people heard on Double Dare, and that's about it. We always want to keep progressing as a band, you have to. Fallout Boy is a great example of a band that has always progressed, or Bring Me The Horizon. They went from gargle to pop and on the radio so quickly. This new record is not Double Dare, in fact there's one song on Entertainment that has just electronics and no other instruments on it at all."
That progressive nature trickles over into the live shows that the band plays. Full of energy and fan interaction at times, their sets have always been a step ahead of their contemporaries while keeping things fun for all in attendance.This will be the biggest show that the band has played in their hometown — something that isn't lost on Knight. "When people ask me what fans should expect, man I don't even know. I guess I could say it'll be five star fun for the whole family, but it's tough to say seeing as how it's our biggest full on headlining set. I know what I do won't change too much as far as talking to fans between songs. It's surreal to be playing in that big room, cool and scary at the same time."
You can stream Waterparks' latest single "Blonde" in all of the usual places, and you can pre-order Entertainment directly from the band's web store. You can catch Waterparks in person when they headline House of Blues on December 7. The all-ages show will also feature support sets from As It Is, Sleep On It, and Chapel. Doors at 5:30 p.m.; tickets $18.50.